Leading up to the Eagles playing the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII on February 12, Sports Talk Philly and Eagledelphia will be taking a look at the underappreciated, unsung players on the Eagles roster that have made this NFC Championship and Super Bowl berth possible. Players who were often overlooked but have become key cogs in the machine despite the lack of recognition.
In this edition, we will focus on offensive lineman Jack Driscoll.
Just a two-star offensive linemen out of Connecticut in the 2015 class, Jack Driscoll was not a hot name among the recruiting trail.
“Just” 250 pounds, many Division I schools might have turned away from Driscoll simply because of his size (or lack thereof). As a result, Driscoll was not a player swamped with offers. His only Division I offer outside of his immediate surroundings in New England was Army. Other offers included Holy Cross, New Hampshire, Brown and UMass.
His high school coach from Daniel Hand told the Montgomery Advertiser’s Josh Vitale in 2018:
Jack probably was the most underestimated player that I ever coached in high school. He didn’t get a ton of accolades at the end of the season or anything like that. He was just a steady, positive, hard-working kid who kind of wore his hard hat and brought his lunch pail to practice every day.Former Daniel Hand coach Steve Filippone, 2018
Jack probably was the most underestimated player that I ever coached in high school. He didn’t get a ton of accolades at the end of the season or anything like that. He was just a steady, positive, hard-working kid who kind of wore his hard hat and brought his lunch pail to practice every day.
Ultimately, Driscoll decided to go with the ladder even though the Minutemen were not in the best of shape coming off two straight 1-11 seasons. Driscoll felt at home at UMass and believed that head coach Mark Whipple could help him along his football journey.
Driscoll redshirted his first season and worked his way up the depth chart. By his second season, he was the starter for eight of the Minutemen’s games and then took over as the starter for the rest of his career there in 2017. During this time, he proved not only to be a good player, but also to be versatile as he had played left guard and left tackle in 2016 before being the full-time right tackle in 2017.
A story you don’t hear often is what happened next. Now a highly-touted player for the independent UMass, Driscoll had already graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management. He wanted to continue his education in getting his MBA while continuing his football career. One snag: Driscoll was not admitted into the UMass MBA program.
Left with two years of eligibility and seeking his MBA, Driscoll needed to find a new school and entered the transfer portal. Having added around 50 pounds and grown an inch or two, the redshirt junior received quite a bit of interest in the portal, ultimately choosing to transfer to the SEC’s Auburn.
At Auburn, Driscoll took over the starting role at right tackle despite the increased level of competition. He fit right in and became a leader for a team that had major concerns along the line the two seasons before. He spent both 2018 and 2019 at right tackle, putting himself in the top-10 of college offensive linemen with 45 straight starts by playing every game for the Tigers.
2020 Philadelphia Eagles Campaign
In a departure from the other players covered so far in this series, Driscoll was a player who actually had his best seasons in college just before the draft and that did leave his name on draft boards.
Ultimately, this wound up with the Eagles choosing to pick him up in the fourth round. Really, this alone is a compliment given that the Eagles have the coaching and scouting of offensive linemen that may be the best the league has ever seen. But that did not guarantee him a spot.
The Eagles, at that point, still had Jason Peters as a starter on the offensive line. They also had Andre Dillard and Jordan Mailata competing at tackle with Matt Pryor and Nate Herbig as incumbent depth on the inside. Not only that, but his Auburn teammate, Prince Tega Wanogho (who will also be in the Super Bowl on the Chiefs’ roster), was drafted by the Eagles along with him. They also gave some decent money to athletic freak Sua Opeta in undrafted free agency. That left the team with 12 offensive linemen who would see themselves playing real offensive snaps in the NFL vying for spots on the same roster.
Ultimately, an injury to Andre Dillard sidelined him for the season and freed up a roster spot. Brandon Brooks was also unable to play that season. In the end, Driscoll beat out his college teammate Wanogho as well as Opeta to become the eighth man on the Eagles offensive line.
Of course, injuries plagued the offensive line in 2020. Jason Peters missed games as he had done for most of the end of his Eagles career. Lane Johnson missed nine games. Isaac Seumalo missed seven games. The injuries allowed Driscoll a chance to get on the field, including starts in week one, week six, and weeks 13 and 14.
Among a team that featured the infamous play of Jamon Brown starting (and tackling his own QB), Driscoll was a bit of a bright spot for a team who had depth concerns. Unfortunately, that didn’t last too long, either as Driscoll himself landed on the injured reserve after his week 14 start and would not be reactivated that season.
2021-22 Philadelphia Eagles Campaigns
In his second year with the Eagles, Driscoll had already made himself into essentially the sixth man on the offensive line. He may have had a new head coach, but offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland would remain.
His cross training had gone very well and the Eagles could trust him to play any position other than center, really (though they might be willing to play him there if needed).
Unfortunately, Driscoll found himself on IR to start the season, but he was able to work his way back in short order, missing just three games at the start of the season.
Come his activation before week four, Driscoll was again a starter. With right guard Brandon Brooks injured, Driscoll became the right guard of the Eagles. For the next nine games, Driscoll would start and play 512 of the offenses next 591 snaps.
He wound up getting injured in that week 12 match against the Giants and was placed on IR again, and he did not return.
Pro Football Focus was thoroughly impressed with Driscoll’s play, giving him a 70.5 grade on the season as a starter.
Come the 2022 season, there were even some thoughts that Driscoll could be the starter at right guard given his performance there. Ultimately, however, the Eagles chose to keep Landon Dickerson at left guard due to his chemistry with Jordan Mailata while the veteran Seumalo started at right guard.
Despite entering the season without a starting spot once again, Driscoll would prove incredibly valuable during the Eagles push to the Super Bowl.
His first action came against his former head coach Doug Pederson, when left tackle Jordan Mailata entered the concussion protocol after just six offensive snaps. This lead to Driscoll playing most of that game and the following game against the Cardinals at left tackle.
That play prompted some praise from his head coach after the game:
Jack Driscoll, man oh man, I can’t say enough about him. He just keeps stepping into scenarios. There’s naturally going to be bumps and bruises along the way on the offensive line, it’s just so physical in there. And Jack Driscoll just continues to come in and play big time, big in big moments. I’m so happy Jack Driscoll is on this football team and he played a heck of a game.Eagles Head Coach Nick Sirianni to the media following the win over the Arizona Cardinals
Jack Driscoll, man oh man, I can’t say enough about him. He just keeps stepping into scenarios. There’s naturally going to be bumps and bruises along the way on the offensive line, it’s just so physical in there. And Jack Driscoll just continues to come in and play big time, big in big moments. I’m so happy Jack Driscoll is on this football team and he played a heck of a game.
The very next week, against Dallas, Jordan Mailata had returned to the lineup to play the Dallas Cowboys, but it was Lane Johnson who suffered a concussion and was removed from the game. That left Jack Driscoll in at right tackle against the Eagles biggest rival in the NFC East this season.
The Eagles then only needed Driscoll in clean up duty in some blow outs against the Steelers, Titans and Giants, which helped to keep Driscoll fresh. That also left the Eagles at 6-0 in games that Driscoll had played.
Then, in the second game against Dallas, Lane Johnson suffered the painful groin injury he is playing through now and left that game, leaving Driscoll to enter versus the NFC East foe once again. He also played every snap of the next two games for the Eagles at right tackle against the Saints and Giants, serving as a starter when the Eagles locked up the top seed in the NFC and a first-round bye.
While Driscoll has not started in either of the team’s playoff games this season, he has ended each of the games on the offensive line as the Birds had the confidence to put him in and rest the injured Lane Johnson to keep him as healthy as can be for the Super Bowl.
The Eagles offensive line will figure to be looking to run the ball against a Cheifs defense that struggles in that area and Driscoll will be fresh and ready to come in should something happen to an Eagles offensive lineman in the contest. His contributions throughout the season helping to overcome injuries on the offensive line are something that fans should not overlook.